I remember when Aveda produced a wide variety of perfume blends (inspired by places and cultures around the world) that were sold in small dark-brown spray bottles. I wore several of those scents and was upset when the line was discontinued. I haven’t paid attention to Aveda perfumes (or should I say “Pure-fumes”) since the demise of those light and pleasing colognes, so when I was in an Aveda salon recently, I tried the brand-new Yatra.
Yatra means “pilgrimage” or “spiritual quest” in Sanskrit. In Yatra’s product announcement, its aroma-therapeutic use is said to “balance mind and body, enhance meditation and contemplation.”
Yatra was created by chief Aveda perfumer Ko-ichi Shiozawa, who describes himself charmingly as “Mother Nature’s messenger — connecting you with her through aromas.” (Ko-ichi Shiozawa has impeccable environmental credentials and was probably a shoo-in for the messenger position.) Aveda uses natural essences (organic when possible) to scent its products and advocates protective management of the world’s natural resources.
Yatra contains sandalwood (harvested from sustainable forests in Australia), organic rose, organic lavender and rose geranium. The sales person at Aveda warned me about the top notes of Yatra: “It’s REALLY strong,” she said. She advised I smell the perfume on paper first but I braved the premier spritz on my skin. Yatra’s strength did not bother me, I love powerful overtures in perfumery, but the aroma was disconcerting. I will be demure and say the opening accord smells of a certain (sugared) body fluid. I believe this uric aroma is created by a clash between rose geranium, lavender and sandalwood. But Yatra’s gong-like opening is brief — the scent settles down in seconds to a warm rose geranium and sandalwood aroma. (I can’t detect much lavender.)
Sandalwood is the main ingredient in Yatra and it is an “active” sandalwood: it starts as a “green” sandalwood, then morphs into a butter-sandalwood, then a sandalwood cookie. I like all these phases (which appear in quick succession). Australian sandalwood doesn’t seem to possess the strength and depth of Indian sandalwood; Yatra’s sandalwood smells “young” and fresh. (If you like your sandalwood deep and resinous you may find Yatra too ethereal.)
Yatra ends with a sweet, soft sandalwood scent — mixed with what smells like ‘crystalline’ vanilla (light, non-foody).
From Yatra’s beginning to its disappearance takes about 90 minutes on my skin; at $70 for 30 ml of perfume this is a pricy ‘cologne-like’ scent. I bet the fleeting nature of Yatra is due to Ko-ichi Shiozawa’s reliance on natural essences and avoidance of chemical fixatives. Yatra is perfect for days when a simple, close-to-the-skin scent is all you want to wear, or if you plan to switch scents midday. Yatra can be used by either sex and in any season; since sandalwood fragrances are good hot-weather alternatives to citrus colognes, Yatra would be perfect for warm summer nights.
Aveda Yatra is $70 for 30 ml and can be purchased in Aveda salons or at aveda online.
Note: image of Nepalese Indra statue by Kevin.